Saturday, March 30, 2019

What Would Some (a little) Look Like

Before we get to the rest of this post I had another good ride and lunged Katai in side reins this week! We're as ready as we can be at this point for our clinic/lesson day with K's trainer. I have one more of these non ride update posts and then I should be able to post some awesome ride updates! Now I just need to get more media :)

Katai realized I was there while I was sitting in my car and was whinnying to me <3
I am a perfectionist. It’s been something I’ve dealt with since I was little. For me this means I struggle with putting in some effort and only ever want to do 0% or 100%. This is why I struggle with goals and, in particular, planning especially for my personal life. Strangely enough this is a major work function for me and I’m really good at coaching people on how to make effective plans that are focused on taking action. However, in my personal life planning beyond the next day or so is tough for me and it’s especially tough for me to plan or make goals for Katai and rides.

Further out than a day or so my brain starts getting hung up on all of the factors that are involved in having two living beings as partners in a very demanding sport. When I do go ride or work Katai I react to the moment and usually accomplish something and it’s fine but it makes it tough to set more specific goals. I might even plan out for the next day’s ride but beyond that I struggle.

With weekly lesson’s it’s always felt ok to have less of a plan because there is another person who is helping to keep our path going in the right direction. However, now that we have lessons monthly or less I feel like it’s really critical that I plan better. In thinking about this and trying to figure out why I can do this at work and not in my personal life and then I saw this posted on my friend's wall; “What would some (a little) look like”.

Looking super majestic while she spooked at people walking in the aisle
With that in mind, over this past week, on a long car drive, I put on my workplace coaching hat and basically coached myself through what I was doing and what wasn’t working and realized the following;

 1. Without an accurate assessment of our gaps and strengths how was I going to be able to focus on the items that I need to improve?
2. Listing which days I was going to ride and movements to work on was too micro for how my brain works and the specificity was frustrating if the pony I had that day didn’t want to play along in that particular way or couldn’t because of soreness etc. Some structure is helpful, too much structure is hurtful especially when dealing with two animals who will likely each have their own things going on for any particular day
3. Bucketing items vs. making specific plans is what I coach employees and leaders to do. Lists of individual issues are way less helpful than identifying themes and building a plan to improve those themes
4. Some action is better than the 0% or 100% approach. Some structure is helpful, too much structure is hurtful
5. Not every ride needs to be perfect, in fact no ride needs to be perfect they just need to accomplish something so I need to set up a plan that encourages me to ride without much specificity so that I can focus on a couple things and not try to accomplish everything at once.

My bf and I were up and Moshy had decided to sleep in.
This was all we could see of her for most of the morning 
Then, when I got home, I listed out items like walk/trot/walk, canter, waiting for cues, half halts, straightness, and transitions and gave us a percentage score for each. After doing that for the movements that we can at least kind of perform I outlined the movements we need to move up to the next level such as walk/canter/walk. Then I put together ride plans in “buckets” that go something like this. Ride 1. Work on baseline gaits, Ride 2. Focus on collection, Ride 3. Stretchy ride.

Under each of those I outlined a list of items that I could do that day and also put a timeframe that I want to ride for. For the collection ride for example I outlined half halts, transitions, transitions within the gaits, backing, SI, etc. and also made that ride shorter, around 20 minutes. Finally I also listed out a bunch of alternative options such as desensitizing Katai to her travel boots, doing a bareback ride, or going for a hand walk. These are things I’ll put into our schedule as well since I want to be riding 3-4 times per week, lunging or doing just a walk ride as my fourth ride, and then having a non-riding day right now.

Then, based on weaknesses, I put my first week together. Since we’re just getting back into this right now I’m going with an either/or approach based on how Katai is feeling but eventually I’ll be more strict about that kind of ride we do since I still have a ton of variability within that ride to play with depending on how she’s feeling.

Still spooking, also I can't wait until her clip grows out
I had posted here about the planner I got for myself during the holidays. I had been disappointed about it and was actually going to post more about how it wasn’t working but now that I have this figured out it’s working great for this way of planning. I’m really hopeful that this will help me continue to make progress without regular access to a trainer.

It’s already helping my motivation since it seems way less overwhelming to have a specific sort of ride to pick from a list vs. thinking of all of the possible things I could work on for a specific day (or just try to do everything every time I rode which was a trap I was falling into). Hopefully this along with utilizing the resources I posted about previously will help me continue to make progress even with less access to lessons!

How do you plan, or not plan, for rides? How do you keep yourself on track?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019


Guess what! I actually rode today and it was good :) I do have a series of posts that I want to do but after this I should actually have riding updates including an update from the clinic.

One thing is for sure, not having weekly lessons scheduled has made me way more resourceful. I’ve been working on a few things and thought it might be good for future me to have this written down as well as potentially helpful for others.


Podcasts! I’ve been listening to the Dressage Radio Show podcast which is now the official podcast of the USDF. I mostly really enjoy it and learn a lot each time I listen. Even items that I don’t initially think would be helpful often spark something as they’re talking through it. One of the ideas I’ve been thinking through recently came from a freestyle conversation where the person they were interviewing talked about assessing the movements you ride and how strong or weak they are for you and your particular horse.

Youtube: This is a huge one for me! I learn from everything I watch whether it’s motivation, technique, a reminder of something that I’ve learned previously but forgotten, or something completely new. My current favorite channels are; Olivia Towers, Joseph Newcomb, and Texas dressage girl. I’ve put a Joseph Newcomb video below that was especially helpful recently.

Video: One of the things that Joseph Newcomb talks about in the above video is videotaping yourself riding. I’m pretty good at coaching myself when I see what’s going on especially since I watch a ton of really good riders on video or in person. I may have to guess at exactly what’s going on but since I can put together the way it looks with the way I remember it feeling it’s actually pretty effective. At the very least I can clean up a lot and then identify a couple things that I’m not able to fix on my own and help the next instructor I ride with narrow down on what I need help with.

Apps: While potentially not accurate on a ride by ride basis I feel like apps like the Equilab app are helpful at identifying trends. Stride length is one example of a trend that, once identified, can be helpful. One of the features I find to be most helpful is how long you spend going in each direction. Again, while probably not 100% accurate each ride it does help identify issues that you can then work on.

Other trainers: I’m lucky enough that K’s trainer comes to the barn once per month during the winter. Right now she’s scheduled to be here next weekend and toward the end of April and I’m riding with her each time. She’s amazing, I’ve ridden with her once before although not on Katai, and I’m really lucky to be able to ride with her. Some lessons are better than none!

In other news, this is why my pony is always so clean.
This is her stall after a full night. There are a few more poops under
the hay at the back but they're neat little piles <3
There are also non-dressage trainers who come to the barn and I may take advantage of that and do a trailer loading lesson with one trainer who has a very quiet, calm, but firm, approach that I think would be helpful for me and Katai.

Other Students: K really encouraged her students to help each other out when she was leaving. I’ve talked with a few of them and while we’re mostly all at a similar level it’s still really helpful to be able to have someone on the ground watch and call out things that they’re seeing. The sense of comradery is great and the motivation to go and ride with someone vs. just riding on your own is really helpful for me. In addition she also offered that if we get video of each other we could send it to her and get some suggestions. See why I like her so much?

Saturday, March 23, 2019

If It's Not One Thing

It's another.

I'd LOVE to be able to post that I've had regular rides for a week and things are going well, however, that's really not the case yet.

First there was the weather and it started with ice and the barn being shut down. Then we had extreme mud and my car decided to break and cost me nearly $1400 in repairs. That both depled my emergency fund that I've been pouring my heart and soul (or mostly just all my pennies) into as well as the small amount of trailer savings I'd built up. Grrrrr

No pictures of the mud but here it is with the ice.
This was when the barn opened again because it was warm enough that it wasn't a skating rink.
The car repair meant that I had a loaner for a few days and didn't feel like needing to call a tow truck to get a massive BMW, that wasn't mine, towed at the barn when I got it stuck in the mud so I didn't go out for a few days. Then I got my car back but the steering was sort of erratic and getting worse so I missed a couple more days before finally bringing it back to the shop. In addition to that Katai had spring shots this past Wednesday and I gave her that day and Thursday off before going out on Friday guessing I'd be lunging. Unfortunately pony's neck was SUPER stiff and I'm wondering if she was also running a bit of a temperature. I gave her bute, groomed her and let her be.

Today I went out and when I first saw her in her stall I was so hopeful! Her neck no longer looked so stiff and I was hoping that the bute had helped and I'd be able to do just a light ride at mostly walk to get her back into things. However, I was grooming her and went to brush her side on the left and she nearly took my face off. Clearly her tummy was bothering her and after poking around a bit more it was clear she was feeling pretty ulcery. I gave her Tums and some ulcer meds and decided that based on how reactive she was being riding was only going to set us back.

I'm over here freaking out a little since I'm signed up to ride with K's trainer in a week and it's been over a week since I had a ride on my pony. Seriously, it would be great if the universe would just cooperate and let me get out to the barn on a regular basis!

Also, the vegan soul food from this all vegan restaurant was wonderful!
Leaving this blog on a positive note, the weather is AMAZING! It was in the mid 50s today and consistently it's been in the 40s. Thank goodness! I've finally been leaving Katai naked and it's been so nice to be able to be at the barn without feeling like I'm just trying to survive :)

I'm also really excited about my lesson next week! It would just be even better if I could ride at least a couple times before I ride so fingers crossed.

I also got all my tack cleaned last night and clean tack is the best. Now I just need to wait until shedding season is closer to being over and then I'll wash my brushes. I'm also working on getting my   blankets to a place that will wash them since I can't now that I'm living in a nice apartment with my bf.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

March Goals

I’m not even going to attempt to recap any goals for this year since we basically haven’t accomplished anything in 2019 yet beyond lots of vacation time. However in continuing with the theme of trying to post more positive things, looking ahead to the rest of March, and what I hope to accomplish, feels good.

Blog More:

My hope is that even if the weather continues to be awful I can still do some more blogging. I’m sure I can find things to blog about even if they aren’t substantial riding updates.

I also want to start trying to get more media even if it’s the snow outside our apartment, Katai eating hay in her stall, or Katai being fluffy and rolling in the arena.


My bf (who has a lot of yoga experience) finally convinced me to go to my first yoga class last Saturday. Unfortunately for him this ended up being a way more difficult class than it should have which made me slightly frustrated and left me feeling a little defeated. I HATE group fitness classes of any sort with a passion and while I was really hopeful that yoga would feel different this one didn’t. We went to a Vinyasa 1 class that apparently was more like a difficult Vinyasa 2 class and the class was packed so the yoga teacher wasn’t able to spend much time with anyone.

At any rate my amazing bf persevered and has convinced me to go to a yoga fundamentals class next Thursday. I’m actually looking forward to this one! I do want to do yoga, I just want to gain some understanding of how to do things correctly and then do it on my own at home and maybe just occasionally join him for a class.

Along with yoga I’m hoping to spend more time in our apartment gym even if that’s just walking on the treadmill and doing core work outs. I really want to get more in shape as I’m increasing my ride frequency.

Bone collection, check
Nap, check

Plan for Shows?:

This one unfortunately is pretty up in the air. I don’t know how I’ll show this year. I’m not sure who I’d trailer with, which trailer I could borrow if any, how much budget I’ll have for showing, or where Katai and I will be riding wise. Right now I’m planning to take things as they come and take opportunities as I can.

I’m very much going to be working to make sure we can show a handful of times this year but if that’s schooling shows this fall that’s ok. For that reason I haven’t paid for any memberships yet but will be proceeding with that if needed. However, I would like to go through and mark some shows that I’m interested in and try to keep those weekends open/start talking with a couple of the people I board with to see if they’d want to join me.

Additional Lessons/Clinic:

I’ve been working with K to do a few weekly lessons (vs. bi-weekly). Unfortunately the weather has been totally derailing this but I’m hoping that the next couple of weeks in March will work for this.

I’ve also signed up for “clinic” with a local, upper level dressage trainer. This person is K’s trainer (KM) and actually the first person I ever took a dressage lesson with way back when. It was supposed to be this past Saturday but, continuing the theme, was canceled based on the weather and was rescheduled for 3/30. My hope is that by then I’ll have had some good rides, a couple lessons at least, and will be feeling more prepared. This person is one option for additional lessons once K moves and I already have tentatively also planned to ride with her on 4/20.

We (the bf, his sister and I) went to Two Cellos
and also got to see Jon McLaughlin who opened for them

Finalize plans for once K is gone:

It’s extremely sad that K is going to be gone the end of this month. I’m going to work hard this month to get as many lesson with her as possible and then finalize plans for once she’s gone. I’ve stepped out of one of my Sunday DnD groups as of last Sunday so I now have more weekend time available which may mean that I can more easily get lessons with K when she’s here. I’m hoping to finalize that within the next couple of weeks.

In addition I’m going to continue to figure out additional options including the following;
  • KM may be coming out once per month through summer and will most likely be coming out once per month at least until summer. When I clinic with her at the end of the month I’m planning to talk through plans with her as well as far as when I could get lessons with her.
  • The gold medalist instructor who’s lessons I audited this past month also offered a lesson or two on her lesson horses. I may make a plan to do so either this month or next to keep that door open. Of course I also think it would be good for my continuing dressage education to ride a more trained horse and take advantage of any and all lesson opportunities.
  • I’m also going to continue to look at other options for moving Katai whether for later this year or in the future just because in continuing to have conversations about it with my support system I think that making sure we have a place to land if/when this place closes is pretty important at this point.

Friday, March 1, 2019


What an appropriate name for this blog post. First, we’ve got the layers of snow. Snow that JUST KEEPS FREAKING FALLING and won’t give me a long enough break to get to the barn.

Seriously guys, not sure what I did but pretty sure I’m in some sort of 3 year run of bad luck. 2018 concluded with the illness from hell and I was encouraged that it would all be up from there but alas all that’s happened is extreme cold (windchills down to -50*s), and lots and lots of snow. I’ve barely been leaving the house at all and have only made it in to work about 7 days out of the past three weeks.

That’s bad.

Luckily I can work from home, unluckily I hate it and even worse, the same snow that has me working from home also means I haven’t been able to make it out to the barn much at all. At least my boss, who is an eventer, lives 5 minutes from her barn so even if she’s working from home she can still go to the barn. I’m very jealous lol.

I was going to wait to blog until I had more positive news to share but we’re into March at this point and there’s a lot more snow in the forecast and the days where we aren’t getting snow are really cold. Grrrrrrrrrrr

 Luckily I live with a really amazing person now and have an awesome puppy so time at home hasn’t been awful but I am just absolutely dying for some consistent, productive time at the barn and am feeling really motivated to make progress so it just sucks that the weather isn’t cooperating. Second, while I don’t have much really positive riding stuff to share I do have some updates that I wanted to share so I figured it made sense to post at this point.

The first update is that I actually did get a bit done at the barn over the last 10 days or so. I was able to make it out late not last week but the one before, on Saturday, and then again on Monday and I had my lesson last Tuesday! The bad news is that I forgot to bring riding clothes with me to work on Tuesday so I didn’t ride and instead K put a ride on Katai. However, it went really well and despite not riding much she was really impressed with the progress I’d made on my homework. T

he second update is that I audited a lesson two Thursdays ago for a fantastic, upper level, local trainer. I’m still figuring out what I’m going to do with K moving. For the short term I plan to stay and will try to make e/o week weekend lessons work. If they were weekdays it would be fine and I wouldn’t be that worried but I have a REALLY tough time fitting things in on the weekend so I’m worried about that. I’ve also been planning to increase my lessons this spring and either take weekly lessons, get more clinic time, or at least take more as needed so that we can officially progress up to second level.

Long term not only am I really sad to be losing my trainer but the farm I am at will also need to close at some point, likely, in the next few years. I don’t know (or understand) all of the details but the land was re-zoned as commercial so I signed on knowing that they had approx. 3 years at that point. The city may allow them to extend but if not, there will be a TON of displaced riders and horses all looking for space at the same time and I don’t want to deal with that. The two things together are causing me to look at new places despite wanting to be doing just about anything other than move Katai again.
She can't resist grabbing a bite of Alfalfa as we walk past
The good part of it? I really enjoyed the lessons I got to see. This person is very easy going but still firm, has their Gold medal so would be the most accomplished dressage show rider that I’ve had the chance to ride with, and is just fun and has a good sense of humor. Unfortunately she had a cold when I audited so was a little less chipper but still fun. The riders at that barn are very talented and I saw more upper level riders and horses there than I have at any other barn in a LONG time. The arena was also really nice, big, and had fantastic rubber mix footing. It was also really busy the entire time I was there from around 6-8:15 with at least 3-4 dressage riders in the arena at all times. I would ADORE being part of a community like that.

The less good? I’m on a waiting list with a few people ahead of me and it’s a tough place to get into since even if a sale horse there sells the new owners often keep it there. I’m also slightly nervous about the intensity. I feel like over the past few years I’ve discovered that there is a sweet spot for me where I can work, make progress, and be motivated but not shut down and still have fun. As I’ve had more things happen in my life outside of horses that balance has shifted slightly so while I REALLY want to ride consistently, make progress, blog more, and for heaven’s sakes finally show more!!! I’m also really conscious of the fact that if I swing too far into that sort of environment I may burn out and it might stop being fun. I’m doing a TON of thinking about the last point and still figuring out where/what type of barn I’d fit at best in the long run.

One big thing I’m considering is that J’s farm (not Jane although Jane’s was a close second) was my absolute favorite environment to be in. If J hadn’t been such a heavy handed person I would have stayed in a heartbeat. Part of me thinks that ever since being there I’m really looking for something similar and this place is so similar it’s eerie. Everything from the set-up of having a heated grooming area but unheated grooming area, to having more trails, to there being primarily dressage riders, to the level of the instructor (J had her silver medal when I was there but shortly after I left she got her gold), tack lockers, pasture board for most horses etc. It’s so similar. That is really encouraging. Add to that the fact that I had the most fun riding and made the most progress/was most motivated when I rode with J and Jane and I think this could be a fit. I've also asked my bf and he thinks I should go for it and I put a lot of stock in his opinion.

But I did get these cool socks. Consolation prize?
In other updates I also went to a tack sale at a great, local tack shop last night with K and another barn friend. That was awesome! Lots of horse talk and shopping. It's been a long time since I got to do something like that and I had so much fun. Again, making me even more sad that K is leaving :(


With my current decision to move I didn't have to think that long to decide which barn I would move to if I could. The barn I'm movi...